Visit our in-depth investigative coverage package for more on the history and technology behind Positive Train Control.
Search "railroad safety" on THOMAS.gov
and up come no fewer than 43 bills in Congress. A search of "Positive Train
Control (PTC)" yields 23 bills. Many are overlapping versions wending their way
through the legislative process.
Still, the flurry of Congressional activity on the topic reflects
the enormous potential of PTC reducing and even eliminating serious railroad
accidents. It also suggests railroad accidents have occurred for decades with
disturbing frequency and perhaps needlessly. Here's a rundown of the latest bills:
Report 2095 Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 is a sweeping railroad
safety bill addressing issues such as PTC implementation, pedestrian crossings,
crew fatigue and transporting hazardous materials as well as substantial
funding. Introduced in May 2007, it passed in the House in October a year ago
and on Oct. 1 in Senate 74-24 (the Senate version of this bill was S.1889). It
was sent to the President Oct. 6 and was awaiting his signature.
Bill 3493 calls for all Class 1 railroads (revenues exceeding $346.8 million)
to have a PTC implementation plan by Dec. 31, 2014 and was introduced on Sept.
16, just four days after the accident in Chatsworth, CA. The House version is H.R. 6973. The
same provision-setting PTC timelines are covered in H.R. 2095.